Disgraced basketball magnate Donald Sterling has given his wife control of a possible sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, according to reports in the US.
Shelley Sterling is thought to be negotiating with the National Basketball Association (NBA) after the organisation banned her husband for life over alleged racist remarks.
According to TMZ, he decided to hand over the team because “he saw the writing on the wall – as long as he remained in control, the NBA would order an involuntary sale of the team”.
US broadcaster ESPN also said it had confirmed the rumours.
The embattled 80-year-old billionaire previously refused to pay a $2.5 million (£1.5 million) fine levied against him by the NBA and threatened to take legal action against any forced sale of the Clippers.
He found himself the target of widespread outrage when an audio recording emerged on the gossip website TMZ of him arguing with his assistant, model V Stiviano, about her posting a picture on Instagram posing with Ervin ‘Magic’ Johnson.
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people,” Mr Sterling can be heard saying. “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it… and not to bring them to my games.”
He then sparked further uproar when he claimed Johnson “should be ashamed of himself” for having HIV during his first interview with CNN after the scandal broke.
Mr Sterling has insisted he is not racist but the NBA charged him with damaging the group with the comments and set a date in June for co-owners to terminate his control of the Clippers.